To celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Project Renewal, we are speaking with clients and staff who have been part of the history of the organization. Read on for our conversation with artist and former client, Marc Moses, who found hope at Project Renewal after his struggle with addiction.
What problems were you facing before you came to Project Renewal?
I had been evicted from my apartment, which was a direct result of my addiction to crack cocaine over the previous seven or eight years. I was initially sent to a shelter in Brooklyn. While I was there, I got help for my drug problem. I had managed to stay away from cocaine for two months prior, and I think the guy helping me could see I was quite serious about getting clean. He told me there was a space in a shelter on the Lower East Side, but it was hard to get in, so I'd better get there quickly. I didn't hesitate in the least. That’s how I ended up at Project Renewal’s Third Street Men’s Shelter in the late winter of 2003.
What type of support did you receive from Project Renewal?
The case managers supported me right away and were very hands-on, helping me acclimate to the shelter and access mental health care resources. I was able to get help for my depression. They really show a sincere concern for their clients. After about a year at the Third Street Shelter, they set me up with an apartment at In Homes Now.
The art resources at the Third Street had a lot to do with changing my feelings about myself and the future. It took me a little while before I began to explore the art room, both because I was deeply depressed but also because I had always been intimidated by the idea of working with color. I had always been reluctant to move beyond the simple binary world of black and white. Gradually, however, I began to challenge my inhibition and was surprised to discover that I had an entirely unexpected ability for using color and a talent mixing paints to match specific hues.
How has support from Project Renewal changed your life?
Exploration in the art room and encouragement from the Project Renewal staff helped me to see that I could be successful. The case workers and mental health services gave me a different perspective on how things could be, and Project Renewal sent me on the path that I wouldn’t have found otherwise. In terms of my art, I was very lucky that I was able to get into shows, and I had number of pieces sell through the Project Renewal Gala, so they continued to support me in that way.